for all x, if x is a man then x is banned from philosophy

This morning greeting us with a statement from the female faculty of the Philosophy department at CU-Boulder regarding the recent APA site visit. The statement included this sentence:

We faculty women strongly believe that none of our currently untenured male colleagues or current male graduate students has engaged in sexual misconduct (nor, indeed, have most of our tenured colleagues).

Within hours, the anonymous author behind “Philosatire” responded by crying “misandry!” To be fair, this piece of satire, while still not reaching the comedic heights of the Daily Currant, did mark an improvement over the inaugural Philosatire post, which looked at the serious allegations of sexual harassment at CU-Boulder and said “lol.”

The new post, while still aimed at reinforcing oppressive hierarchies and being painfully unfunny to boot, does at least have a coherent message. It misquotes the above statement from the CU faculty, and comments:

You don’t have to be H.P. Grice to get the message here people—it doesn’t say anything about FEMALE faculty and grad students not being guilty. And it only says that most MALE faculty and graduate students are not guilty. Gee, I wonder what I’m supposed to conclude from that?

This is simply unjust. We believe all vague and unsubstantiated internet accusations of misconduct that are made against women in philosophy (such as the one quoted here) should be ignored. This is crucial for improving the climate in our discipline.

The point that this poor man is struggling to make, hindered by his weak grasp of comedy and language, is the well-known one that a situation like this one where the roles were reversed would be very bad. From this he makes an astonishing leap, inferring that this situation is very bad.

Two points can be made here:

  1. Men are bad at logic.

  2. The popularity of the “what if the genders were reversed” rhetorical strategy may be encouraging people (especially white men) to think in terms of interpersonal prejudice (misandry!) rather than systemic sexist oppression when it comes to sexism, just as the right’s “reverse racism” talking point may be partly to blame for young people’s superficial grasp of racial oppression.

A most effective way to disabuse our anonymous satirist of his ignorance of the systemic aspect of differential treatment, while simultaneously showing him what it really would be like if the tables were turned, is to ban men from philosophy.

Maybe not permanently; maybe just for a year. But really, either way, it can only help the profession (see point #1 above).


Now read this

Collegiality is bullshit

New APPS has very good post about what’s wrong with calls for “collegiality” in the ongoing debates about how to fix professional philosophy. Read that instead of this; I just want to make a few additional, relatively minor, points. If... Continue →